Originally Posted by silktiger
Alienware has failed me leaving me few options.
I sincerely hope that this never happens to anyone else... but be forewarned.
Here are the facts.
I am a researcher and use notebooks for research and development consisting of heavy string processing, neural network and fuzzy logic algorithms, NLP modules, etc. I need mobility as I am a college professor and not in one spot for any great length of time. Three years ago I switched to Apple because of OS X. After two years of languishing on a Mac Powerbook (too many inconsistencies and it does not fully support the Java specification upon which all of my research is based), I opted to switch back to Windows and I wanted something that would welcome me back to the Windows world. Consequently, I purchased an Alienware 7700 at the end of January in 2005. After careful consideration (ResellerRatings.com anyone ?!?!?), I decided to give Alienware a try. What I wanted was straight-forward: a notebook with RAID0, Gigabit ethernet, dual optical drives, a processor that could handle multiple threads at once, and 2-4 Gigs of DDR RAM. I do not play games all that much (only with my 3 sons) and when I do it is only the multiplayer-type (UT2004, Battlefield/Battlefront, C&C Generals, etc.) on our gaming cluster. Hence, all I really needed was a 6800 (not ultra). The 7700 fit the bill.
It was delivered after 2 and a half months and operated smoothly without a hitch for 10 months. Again, I am not a "gamer" and have no need for overclocking or pushing the HW past stock specs. I used it primarily for Java coding. Due to the design of the machine, panels B and C both became scratched near the palmrests and around the screen. After going back and forth with Alienware customer service, they agreed to send out a technician to replace the panels. This is about the time when everything went to HELL.
Mid January 2006, a week before the tech came out to do the replacements, my MB died: at least that is what I immediately thought. One afternoon in my office at school, I heard light popping sounds from the "brick" PS though I did not think anything of it at the time. Then I smelled a whiff of burnt electronics. Two minutes later I received my first BSOD. I literally spent days on the phone with tech support. I told them that it appears that the MB died or possibly even the CPU (the machine eventually would not turn on at all). They wanted me to send it to depot... but only after the tech replaced the panels. The panels were replaced and off to depot it went at the end of January.
First Time at Depot: in Memphis
I did not think that it would take as long as it did and so I called tech support nearly once or twice a week. The machine finally came back after a month and was repaired by Antonio Dancy. The repair receipt stated that the failure was duplicated and the CPU was replaced. Within two hours of having the machine on, it locked up in Windows. Over the next few days tech support had me "field strip" the machine multiple times, test each and every stick of RAM in each and every slot, reseat the GPU, reseat the RAID array, optical drives, and wireless card. All the while the machine eventually got worse until after the third day of being back from depot, it would not boot anymore. Tech support had me send it back to depot at the end of February.
Second Time at Depot: in Memphis
Again, given the extensive troubleshooting on the phone with techsupport, I figured that they should be able to skip ahead and proceed straight to component replacement. I was wrong of course. I called customer service and told them of my need that they perform some type of testing before sending it back to me. They assured me that it would come back in perfect working order this time. The machine finally came back after about 3 weeks and was repaired by Michael Lowe. The repair receipt stated that the failure was duplicated and the motherboard was replaced. It was indeed replaced as I previously had a 5.2a and now the sticker read 5.3. Proceeded to turn it on... and NOTHING. Not a GD thing. Up until that point I wanted to give the depot the benefit of doubt but not anymore... I was PISSED... and proceeded to tell customer service so. "This is not a normal situation" said Priscilla at customer service. Omar in tech support told me that I needed to send it in again and this time they would replace the MB, GPU, and CPU. However, after telling me twice that they would fix the problem and then not even bothering to validate their repair, how was I to believe that? Priscilla told me to hold off on doing anything. So, the machine sat in my living room for two days in late March until Priscilla called me back. She said that her "supervisors" would expedite my order and elevate it to "corporate" status. I would get express mail service to and from the depot, I would have someone look at my order personally, and I would bypass Memphis and send it directly to Miami to have it repaired by the techs there. "We're so sorry about this... this is not normal and we will get this fixed this time definitely for sure" is what I was told. Eventually, I would end up sending it back on March 26th.
Third Time at Depot: in Miami
I literally called customer service every other day for 3 solid weeks as the machine (incredibly) sat in "Diagnostics" the entire time. Then on Monday April 17th, I called customer service and they relayed to me that the machine went from Diagnostics, to Assembly, to Shipping (IN ONE DAY) and that I should see it by week's end. I asked repeatedly if they did testing of the machine. "It says here that the tech replaced the GPU... oh, and reinstalled the OS." "But did they test it?" I reiterated. The customer service rep told me that they did reinstall the OS and that they were able to get into Windows. The call ended. I called back to make sure that they would indeed use express mail service to send it back as they promised me they would. "I'm sorry but it was already sent... the best I can do is 3 day express if I call FedEx directly... would you like $50 in Amazon coupons for your trouble?" is what I heard from customer service. Again, I was pissed. Waited for the 4 days that it took to get to me (it came as plain-old FedEx Ground service... so much for the express). I received the machine yesterday April 21st. It was repaired by Jonathan. The repair receipt stated that the failure was duplicated and the GPU was replaced. Powered the machine and found that the techs had left in the burn-in CD (QuickTech Pro) that they used to burn in the machines. Thus, the machine want into a single burn-in iteration before I saw what was happening and exited out of it. The machine proceeded to boot into Windows. They did not even reinstall the OS as I was told they would. I WAS SOOOOOOOOO HAPPY. All of my research had sat on hold for 3 months... finally I can get back to work. I went to convey my exceedingly joyous mood to my wife and when I came back to my machine... the screen was black with white squares flickering in random spots.
wtf, Wtf, WTF !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This simply could not be happening. I rebooted and sure enough the POST screen was all garbled with letters screwed up, white rectangles all over the screen, and unreadable text. However, the machine would still POST and boot at that point. Unfortunately, once it got into Windows I got the BSOD...
"Problem caused by file: nv4_disp. Device driver stuck in infinite loop. This indicates a problem with the device itself or with device driver programming the hardware incorrectly.
STOP: 0x000000EA (0x85B852E8, 0x85C39368, 0xF7955CBC, 0x00000001)"
I called tech support last night and was immediately put through to advanced support. At 7:18PM Central time I began speaking with Stephen. Told him my problem and he put me on hold. He came back after ~20 minutes and told me that I would have to SEND IT BACK IN. No. I refused. I need another option. I wanted to troubleshoot (which I know would have been a waste of time anyway but I was distraught). He put me on hold for another ~25 minutes and then came back on to offer that I send it back in with it being escalated this time. NO, NO, NO. This non-working machine is the product of sending it in at an escalated level. He put me back on hold for another ~15 minutes so that I could speak to someone with more authority.
Spoke with Lea (tech support supervisor) at 8:22PM. She offered me two options: 1) send it in again or 2) escalate to another department where someone will contact me within 24-48 hours to rectify the solution. I calmly explained "Please look at it from my perspective...
1. I've already sent it in 3 times...
2. I've already been promised too many times to count that it would be fixed...
3. I've already been placed at VIP-status in order to resolve my issues...
4. I was told that it would be tested before shipment and it was not...
5. I was promised 2-day delivery and got 4...
6. I was promised $50 in Amazon certificates on April 18th in the form of an email and still haven't seen them...
and now you want me to consider sending it in for a 4th time in as many months?" I told her that option 1 is off of the table for now. At this point, I'd rather take this whole mess to court and settle this legally under breach of contract rather than send it back ANYWHERE. Reluctantly, I am now resigned and ready to fight a long and protracted battle to rectify this wrong.
I am just a scientist who loves finding new ways to solve the world's problems (i.e I love my job). I have lost incalculabe hours of research as a result of this. This goes way, WAY beyond inconvenience. Their repair workflow is ATROCIOUS: borderline ineffectual. Alienware's only saving credit has been the AMAZINGLY KIND and courteous customer service and tech support. While those two groups have been unable to solve my problems, it certainly was not as a result of a lack of professionalism. I just genuinely doubt that their repair workflow is anywhere near acceptable in terms of efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.
And it saddens me to say that Alienware has made me want to... switch back to Mac.
This "Alien Agent" or whatever he/she/it is should be calling at some point. I will update this post as time progresses.